It’s Not Paranoia If They Really Are Out to Get You!


“People want more efficient government services, like smart cards to help them through airport security faster, but they balk at the idea of giving up their privacy to obtain those services. Citizens reach a threshold where they draw the line between individual freedom and the government’s ability to know more about what they’re doing.”
–David McClure,
VP of e-Government
Council for Excellence in Government

My questions:

1) Why do people balk at providing personal information to the government?

They give their info to corporate websites, who then sell it to the likes of ChoicePoint & Lexis Nexis. The government, however, doesn’t sell information to data miners.

2) Why do people think they deserve privacy?

3) What are their reasons?

4) Where is the tradeoff between privacy and security and convenience?

Here’s my cut. If you aren’t doing anything wrong, what’s the big deal? Why is the ACLU up in arms about this stuff? Seems like the only folks that care about this are the ones that have stuff to hide.

The technologies are available to make bio-metric and DNA identification a reality. Terrorists and bad guys can’t fake it. Identity theft would become a thing of the past.

I can understand concerns about the security of the information. How can we guarantee security of the databases? How do we defend against hackers? These are legitimate questions, and the answers are being worked hard. If there is one thing that the Government takes seriously, it’s protecting information (except for some presidential aides that sneak sensitive material out of secure areas in their socks).

What I don’t get are the conspiracy theorists that harp on the “what if” scenarios. What if the government turns bad? What if the Nazis come back into power?

The opening statement of this post says it all. We give up our privacy freely to private organizations without any fear of the information coming back to bite us. We throw our most sensitive information (social security numbers, bank account, and credit card numbers) around the internet just so we don’t have to drive 30 minutes to the nearest Borders for that new book we want. We sign up for Google G-mail because it has some cool functionality, but pay no mind to the fact that they scan and save every single email you send. [ For further info on Google and G-mail, check out this link. If you want an invite for a G-mail account, let me know. I’ve got plenty of invites left! ] But as soon as the Government wants a little info to help track down bad guys or profile suspicious behavior patterns, we scream foul. Why the double standard?

C’mon… tell me why we shouldn’t be doing this.

One Response to “It’s Not Paranoia If They Really Are Out to Get You!”

  1. Al Sturgeon Says:

    I’m not nearly as careful as people tell me I “should” be with personal information – probably because I’ve never been hurt, so I, too, don’t get too up in arms about providing information to either government or corporate America.

    I would insist on equality and no double standards, however. If I’m asked to provide information, it should be the same information everyone is asked to provide (not because of my race, religion, etc.).

    And I suspect there are some real fears to consider since the government does have “extra” power over an individual (e.g. we want to put a road where your family home stands; Wal-Mart can pressure me, but they can’t make me move!), and because of it’s capacity for secrecy (e.g. I’m a citizen, what’s the CIA doing? Well, that’s classified.)

    Not making many real points here – just talking…

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